Skeptics gather to ask the hard questions

  • 10/08/2009

Do you favour conspiracy theories and quack cancer therapies? Are you convinced ghosts are in the photo and circumcision can cure Aids?

Perhaps you should keep an open yet critical mind, and maybe attend an annual New Zealand Skeptics conference, which will be held in Wellington over September 25 to 27.

It will bring speakers from across New Zealand and Australia for three days of testing assumptions, learning and a surprising degree of laughter, said Skeptics chairwoman Vicki Hyde.

The programme includes scientist Bob Brockie, who will discuss reactions to his science columns in the Dominion Post, from chemophobes to kooks. Skeptics member Hugh Young will present "Circumcision - a cure looking for a disease", which promises a "leg-crossing presentation including an epic poem".

The conference also includes the Annual Bent Spoon Award for the most gullible piece of reporting in the New Zealand media over the past year, and the Bravo Awards, which applaud evidence of critical thinking.

Research in New Zealand showed many people were exploited by all sorts of claims, whether those of telephone psychics, touring mediums, the alternative health industry or conspiracy theorists, Ms Hyde said.

"We look at what good evidence is there for claims made about the world, and what we should be wary of.

"There's the exploitainment voyeurism of shows like Sensing Murder, where grieving families are milked for their entertainment value.

"Not to mention the truly dangerous claims made by businesses touting dodgy health cures."

The annual gathering is open to the public. More information and an online booking form is available on the website www.skeptics.org.nz.

NZPA

source: newshub archive


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